Where to eat & What to do in RW Queens

Where to Eat & What to Do in Ridgewood, Queens

By now you’ve heard -- likely ad nauseam -- of the exploding commercialization and gentrification of Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Williamsburg, Bushwick and Greenpoint. But just east of those meccas of trend sits unassuming Ridgewood.

This Queens neighborhood has resisted corporate exploitation for at least 40 years, local business owner Toni Binanti said. Binanti has been part of the Rudy’s Pastry Shop family for decades and said Ridgewood-ians take pride in their community and fend off developers when they inevitably come through looking to buy up properties. The result: a charming and diverse area just off the beaten path.

“The neighborhood never really got that big,” Binanti said. “It was always a great neighborhood. It’s just never been explored the same" as nearby Bushwick.

An art scene has also taken root in Ridgewood. Superchief Gallery co-founder Ed Zipco said artists are drawn to the community feel.

“Our artists have been part of a community for a long time. These people have been coming up together."

So if you get a chance to check out this delightful Queens neighborhood before it gets too cool, here are a few things you shouldn’t miss out on.

Sip a cold brew at Milk & Pull


Start your day off right. Grab a coffee -- whether you're into cold brew or dirty chai or plan ol' drip -- and a loaded bagel. For traditional lox-and-capers lovers, order the Borough Park for $8. If you're feeling more adventurous, go for Milk & Pull's $4 Monkey Business sandwich, which comes with banana, peanut butter, Nutella and granola. (778 Seneca Ave.)

(Credit: Colter Hettich)

Thrift shop at McKlain Collection


You never know what you might find in this haystack, but one thing's for sure: the prices at McKlain Collection are hard to beat. This secondhand store caters primarily to women, and you're likely to find something for any season. If you enjoy thrift shopping, you'll love sifting through the racks and piles of vintage clothing. There's also a great assortment of denim, if you're still looking for your summer cutoffs. (813 Seneca Ave.)

(Credit: Colter Hettich)

Street art on Irving Avenue


Almost the entire block on both sides of Irving Avenue between Gates and Palmetto avenues, just over the border in Bushwick, is adorned with rich, illustrative murals. While some of the works' inspirations look a bit abstract, several of the murals are directly inspired by life in the area. Standard Tinsmith, for example, features an industrial scene of a man molding tin. A two-story mural depicts citizen responsibility for monitoring police activity.

(Credit: Colter Hettich)



Authentic street eats for lunch


For lunch, head toward the L train station at Myrtle and Wyckoff at the Bushwick border. Underneath the elevated train tracks sits a tamale stand (and don't wait too long -- the cart takes off mid-afternoon). These homemade tamales are the best around, plus you can fill up without breaking the bank. Go for the spicy options if that's your thing, but the tamales de salsa verde are perfect for more sensitive palates.

(Credit: Colter Hettich)

Record shop at Deep Cuts


If you can't find Deep Cuts Record Store, you're probably looking for a nonexistent sign. The bare, orange awning on Catalpa Avenue is the only indicator of the treasure trove of records inside. Whether you're looking for '90s hip-hop singles, David Bowie's "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust" or anything in between -- this is the place. Standouts we found while browsing include "The Fat Boys Are Back" and "The Wrestling Album: The Music of the WWF." (57-03 Catalpa Ave. )

(Credit: Colter Hettich)

Sweeten up at Rudy’s Bakery & Cafe


When it's time for your afternoon pick-me-up coffee, head to a Ridgewood staple that's an absolute must while in the neighborhood: Rudy's. The bakery, which has been around since 1934, prepares its goodies fresh daily. Customer favorites include the moist cherry and cheese Danishes, as well as the flaky apple turnovers. If you happen to have any special events coming up, grab one of their succulent whipped cream cakes. (905 Seneca Ave.)

(Credit: Colter Hettich)

Quiet time at Topos Bookstore Cafe


Look no further for a sign that the neighborhood is catching on with millennials. Go past the modest facade and explore the literary cove inside, a lovely combination of bookstore and cafe. Patrons truly appreciate the quiet, reverent atmosphere, so avoid it if you're looking for a place to catch up with friends. While at Topos, you can grab a snack and browse the eclectic mix of new and old reads. (788 Woodward Ave.)

(Credit: Colter Hettich)

Dance, drink, play at Nowadays

Finding a seat at the massive outdoors Nowadays shouldn't be a problem. (Stay tuned for the still-to-open, 5,000-square-foot indoor bar-restaurant-dance floor.) You'll find a festival-like atmosphere, with games including table tennis and checkers, plenty of picnic tables, and a Sunday dance night, AKA Mister Sunday. The curated beer menu goes beyond the ordinary (Bronx Summer Ale and Bitburger are among the draft choices), and you can source bites from a food truck run by Brooklyn-based caterers Puslane. (56-06 Cooper Ave.)(Credit: Nowadays)



Superchief Gallery, for one-of-a-kind art


Make this one-of-a-kind joint your grand finale to the day. Superchief, an art/music/video/printing/studio space, is almost impossible to define, other than to say it's simply a venue where everyone is welcome and every art form is appreciated. Call ahead (646-281-3189) for a guided tour of whatever exhibition is currently up. (They rotate fairly often.) A few nights a month, Superchief hosts dance parties as well as video game tournaments. (1628 Jefferson Ave.)

(Credit: Colter Hettich)

Featured image courtesy of Colter Hettich